Fuzzy cell phone reception and a lack of broadband Internet choices doesn’t bode well for the future of apartment communities, according to a survey by the National Multi Housing Council, a national group representing apartment firms.
While 94 percent of respondents to the group’s Apartment Renter Technology Survey stated that technology didn’t have much to do with the selection of their current apartment, respondents said that high-speed Internet, good cell phone reception and a choice of service providers might be important choices when they move.
The survey of about 1,000 renters was conducted by SatisFacts Research LLC.
About 78 percent of respondents have computers in their apartments and about 85 percent of those subscribe to a high-speed Internet service — either cable, DSL or wireless, the survey found.
About 58 percent of apartment homes have a wired landline phone, according to the survey, and 38 percent consider it their primary phone. And 88 percent of renter homes have a mobile phone compared with 74 percent of all households, NMHC reported.
“The widespread use of cell phones poses new challenges for apartment owners whose structures block cell reception or are in a particular service provider’s dead spot,” said David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology for the housing council, in a statement. “For renters whose primary phone is a cell phone, the ability to get a cell signal may be a compelling factor in the decision to renew, or even to recommend friends to live at the same property.”
Renters favor face-to-face and telephone communication with apartment-community staff, according to the survey. “By a factor of 500 percent, residents would prefer to communicate with their community’s staff in person versus sending an e-mail or using a Web portal,” the housing council reported. “Calling the office was the second-most desired means of communicating with the apartment staff.”
About half of the survey respondents were under 34, according to the report, and these renters are more likely to use their Internet connections to play online games and watch streaming video than older renters.
“This fast-growing trend has clear implications for apartment owners and other investors in broadband infrastructure,” Cardwell stated. “Today’s college students, accustomed to lots of bandwidth on their college networks, are tomorrow’s bandwidth hogs.”
The desire and use of technology is strong among lower-income and upper-income renters alike, the survey also found. “Service penetration rates and rankings of importance are almost identical no matter the income range,” the council reported.
About 69 percent of respondents said they would like their apartment communities to offer wireless hotspots.
According to the survey, about 15 percent of residents said that they were “likely” or “very likely” to bundle their phone, video and Internet services with one provider.
In a separate announcement, rental search site Apartments.com has launched an online, interactive lifestyle center called Apartment Living. The center offers a range of information for renters — article categories include: landlords, leases, budgeting, moving, gardening, health and fitness, decorating and entertaining.
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